Lake of the Ozarks has always been good to me, and I always look forward to fishing it in the fall. When the water temps start to drop, the shad migrate in mass towards the back of the creeks, and the bass position predictably on certain docks to ambush schools of baitfish all day long. During last weekend's BFL Ozark Super tournament, the water temps were considerably warmer than they have been during a typical fall, so those fish weren't quite there. The lake fished as about as large as I've seen it, with boats scattered out across all arms of the lake. In both practice and in the tournament fish were being caught on main lake ledges, points, deep brush, and surprisingly, under the very last docks in major creeks. During pre-fishing I noticed that when you'd get back into the skinnier water, you'd start to see schools of the bigger Gizzard shad. The larger meals swimming around in 3-5ft of water seemed to pull a handful of the better fish under those ultra-shallow docks.
Knowing that I may need to catch fish shallow or deep, I rigged a Dobyns 734 Champion with 15lb Seaguar Inviz-X Fluorocarbon on one of my brand new Lew's Tournament Pro Speed Spools in a 7.1:1 gear ratio. My bait of choice was going to be a big shaky head...1/4oz, 5/16oz, or even larger at times. The 1/4oz football-head made by Bass Team Tackle has a large, stout hook and larger spring that is made for the oversized "finesse" baits we like to throw in the Ozarks. Paired with a large senko style bait or thick finesse worm, it had enough skip to it to get up under the docks and cables where the big fish were waiting, and had enough weight to stay sensitive in 25-35ft of water. This was my first time fishing a shaky head on baitcasting gear, and the Dobyns 734 continues to amaze me with it's versatility. I typically use it for fishing bigger spinnerbaits, buzz frogs, and football jigs, and it made an excellent dock-skipping rod and light flippin' stick. The 4-power gives it enough tip to give you super accurate pitches, and the length and Heavy action backbone help you drive the hook home whether your bait is in 3ft of water or 35ft of water.
My day one partner had about an hour of time on the water in the last four years, but during that hour he'd caught a few keepers on a small stretch of docks just minutes from take off. After idling out of PB2 and making a short run, I was caught by surprise by my first bite of the morning. While boats were still taking off, I messed up a cast...put the bait a little higher than I wanted, and instead of going under a dock cable it went over and landed on the walkway. I pulled it off slowly so I could reel in and make another cast, and when it hit the water my line shot out away from the dock. I swung and cranked the reel a few times, and after a scary moment with my line draped over the cable I had a 4 pound fish in the box (thanks to an outstanding net job by my boater!). Boats still taking off...I caught that first fish's twin from the 4th dock we fished. Thinking that I already had enough weight to make the day 2 cut, I was able to fish completely loose and relaxed the rest of the day. After a trip to one of my spots that yielded a 12.5" Kentucky, we made another pass through the docks where we'd started. This time through I caught a good 16" keeper, and the 4th dock replenished with another fish...this time a 5 pounder that absolutely smoked my BTT shaky head. With time running short, we ran to the next creek over to see if we could expand on what we'd found that morning. My boater was able to boat two quick keepers before weigh in, and I was able to cull my 12.5" Kentucky with another solid largemouth. It felt great lugging that bag up to the stage, but I was shocked when I heard it weighed 18lbs and 7oz. My biggest fish was 4lbs 14oz, and I narrowly missed winning another check for big bass. Going into day 2 they paired me with the boater who had lead day 1, so I had a feeling we'd be doing much of the same thing.
My hunch was pretty close, but the fishing got tough. An area that had given him almost 19lbs on the first day only gave us a handful of keepers. I was able to boat everything that bit on the 2nd day, but unfortunately that was only one good fish...a heavy 3 pounder that ate my shaky head at about 8am.
I went into day 2 with a 4 1/2lb lead, so I had a feeling I'd be sitting in the hot seat for a while...just watching the rest of the field weigh in and doing the math in my head. I knew I wouldn't lead it wire to wire, and in my head I felt like my one fish wasn't going to be enough. I dodged bullet, after bullet...after bullet, as fishing had proved to be tough for everyone. The 3rd through 20th place co-anglers all brought in empty bags, or bags that were too light to overtake my lead. The 2nd place co-angler finally knocked me off by 3lbs 9oz. Knowing that my fish was somewhere in that neighborhood, I jumped off the stage and ran to the livewell...after sitting there that long wondering, I just wanted it over with. After messing with us for a few minutes, Anthony lifted his hand off the tub and the scale settled on 3-14. It's something I'll never forget...first win, and one hell of an incredible feeling.
Full Press Release:
Spinks grabs first title on Lake of the Ozarks
OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – Cody Spinks of Springfield, Mo., weighed a two-day total of 10 bass totaling 36 pounds, 1 ounce to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Ozark Division super tournament on Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach on Sunday. For his victory, Spinks earned $5,648.
“This is my first season fishing the BFLs, and my first win,” said Spinks. “It feels so good, and I don’t think that it’s going away. I’d been on a solid pattern for the past 4 or 5 weeks. After the extremely hot summer, about four weeks ago we had a big cool down. I noticed that the water temperatures in the back pockets dropped 5 to 10 degrees cooler than the main lake. When I investigated, I found the big shad were there, and the bluegill spawn was finishing up, so there were bream everywhere. It was a feeding frenzy.”
Spinks fished on the north shore of the lake from mile marker three to mile marker 13. All of his fish throughout the tournament came on a blue fleck-colored 10-inch Berkley Power Worm.
“My pattern was very dock-oriented,” Spinks continued. “The big bass would hide in the shade of the docks and just ambush the bait when it came by. It was real shallow and very clear.
“I really have to give the credit for this tournament win to my dad,” Spinks went on to say. “He taught me everything that I know about fishing, and it was a real treat to have him attend the weigh-in and watch me get the victory.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros:
2nd: Jim Young, House Springs, Mo., 10 bass, 35-10, $2,824
3rd: Lupe Garcia, Fayetteville, Ark., 10 bass, 33-10, $1,882
4th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 10 bass, 33-8, $1,318
5th: Joe Brantley, Willard, Mo., nine bass, 31-13, $1,130
6th: Marcus Sykora, Osage Beach, Mo., 10 bass, 27-2, $1,035
7th: Dennis Berhorst, Holts Summit, Mo., 10 bass, 26-14, $941
8th: Mike Malone, Lake Ozark, Mo., nine bass, 24-1, $847
9th: Dirk Sluyter, Russellville, Mo., nine bass, 22-10, $753
10th: Tim Fleetwood, Forsyth, Mo., 10 bass, 22-8, $659
Complete results can be found here.
Mathews takes co-angler title
Pete Mathews of Shawnee, Kansas, weighed in six bass totaling 22 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win $2,824 in the co-angler division.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers:
2nd: Jay Myers, Fenton, Mo., nine bass, 22-0, $1,412
3rd: James Beussink, Maryland Heights, Mo., eight bass, 17-8, $940
4th: David Hamilton, Rogers, Ark., six bass, 16-6, $659
5th: Bryan Barnard, Harrison, Ark., six bass, 13-2, $565
6th: Randy Bindel, Liberty, Mo., six bass, 12-10, $518
7th: Dan Ashby, Independence, Mo., four bass, 12-5, $471
8th: Max Wilson, Everton, Mo., six bass, 12-5, $424
9th: Brian Thompson, Springfield, Mo., six bass, 11-9, $377
10th: Johnnie Cook, Houston Lake, Mo., four bass, 11-7, $329
Complete co-angler results can be found here.
The top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 11-13 Regional Championship on Lake Barkley in Kuttawa, Ky. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and a Chevy Silverado, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.
The BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 120 tournaments throughout the season, five in each division. The top 40 boaters and co-anglers from each division qualify for a regional tournament and compete to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Walmart BFL All-American presented by Chevy. Top winners in the BFL can move up to the EverStart Series or even the Walmart FLW Tour.
FLW is the industry’s premier tournament-fishing organization, providing unparalleled fishing resources and entertainment to our sponsors, fans and host communities. FLW is offering anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2012 over the course of 191 tournaments across five tournament circuits, each providing an avenue to the sport’s richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW is committed to providing a lifestyle experience that is the “Best in Fishing, On and Off the Water,” through a variety of platforms including tournaments, outdoor expos and the world’s richest fantasy sports game – FLW Fantasy Fishing. For more information about FLW and FLW Fantasy Fishing, visit FLWOutdoors.com or FantasyFishing.com and look for FLW on Twitter and Facebook